I’ve been sitting in my living room deep in thought for some time, struggling to make sense of the senseless. The TV is on, but I long ago muted it. Now the silent images of faces and videos scroll across the screen in an endless procession. I could no longer stomach the gunfire. Or the screams of the helpless from those patchy and frantic cellphone videos. Harder still, I cannot believe there will no longer be memories or videos shared from some of those phones again. And why? What did these people do to deserve this?
Before delving deeper into my thoughts, I feel it’s important to provide a disclaimer. I am an avid gun user. I grew up around firearms my whole life. I was in the military, where you quickly learn that your weapon literally is your life. So I have a very healthy respect for what the consequences of pulling the trigger really means. I believe it’s also important to disclose that I grew up very conservative. But today, none of that matters. I’m writing this article as a human, albeit not the best one, but a human nonetheless. Okay, now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s get back to my thoughts.
Why did this happen? To answer this, I’m going to pose another question. How did this not happen sooner? Growing up in the ’80s and ’90s, there were not many gun laws, yet there were less instances of mass shootings. Sure, there were some, but not with the frequency there are today. So why the increase? What has changed? Certainly the gun laws have tightened since. So theoretically, shootings and overall gun violence should have gone down. Obviously, this is not the case. My thoughts keep leading me to one answer: The Internet, or more specifically, the information that it provides.
Before the advent of the internet, communication occurred face to face or via landline phone (what’s that?). Information came from books or learning from others. Gun sales occurred in a gun shop. Sure, there were black market sales, but it was about who knew who. You could not go up to Joe Blow on the street and purchase an AK 47. If it did happen, it was with very little frequency. Fast forward to now. Anything our dirty hearts want, we just type and BOOM. You want a silenced AR-15? Just click. You want a bump stock or any mod? Click here. Want to find a blue print to make your own automatic rifle? Pay $20. Online laws may have been tightened, but if you want it, you can make it happen.
Could this tragedy have been prevented? Could the last ten of them have been prevented? That’s the million dollar question. As I said before, I am an avid gun user. But there is absolutely no reason a civilian needs an assault rifle. I will say that again. A CIVILIAN DOES NOT NEED AN ASSAULT RIFLE. You can argue self-defense all you want, but it only takes ONE bullet to protect yourself. I don’t know how many of you get into long, drawn out gunfights on your way to work, but I’m guessing it’s a very small percentage. So I think it’s probably safe to say you’ll do just fine with a shotgun or a handgun with a nine round magazine. Less bullets = less death.
Another important part to this is vetting. Every state has different laws. There should probably be one federal law that is standard across the states. One central ban list would probably do just fine. And enforcement. Make it an automatic felony to possess any type of prohibited weapon with mandatory jail time. Caught scouring the internet for weapons? Off to jail for you.
I personally would not care if you confiscated all of my guns. If it means my daughters can go to a concert, Disneyland, or walk down the street and feel safe, then do it. Maybe this might go a long way toward curbing some of this violence. Ultimately, we need to be realists though. Guns are a protected 2nd Amendment right. The government cannot outright ban them, but they can adopt a harder, unified stance. I know this is just scratching the surface of a much more complicated issue, but it’s a start.
Now why did these people have to die? I don’t know. They didn’t deserve to. And that’s the tragedy in all of this. We have failed them and the countless other victims by not acting. You take a gun (something that needs legislation) and put it in the hands of someone mentally ill (needs legislation/proper care) and create a disaster waiting to happen. That’s how we’ve failed.
Here in America, we deal with the important issues by sweeping them under the rug, and placing blame on each other. But let me tell you one thing: If we ever want to stop these massacres from happening, we need to put politics and blame aside and work together to take responsibility for the safety of each other. That’s the only way progress will be made.